Thar she blows!: It’s got to be Rush Oh!

I’m dying to give Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett the glowing and fulsome review that it deserves. Rush Oh! is a gem of a book; ranking up there as one of my favourite books of 2017. So, I should be writing a review that lists its virtues, at length. However, for various tedious reasons (new job/ moving house/ Christmas) my time is compromised, and this mini review will have to do. The most important thing is this: if the sound of this book tickles your fancy, beg, borrow or buy it as a priority.

Aussie hero fights crime and the heat: And Fire Came Down

The Australian landscape is legendary. As a nation, we’re in love with our inhospitable continent, but we are also afraid of it. The heat, the bushfires, the extreme distances and the menagerie of peculiar animals create an environment that largely works against the interests of its inhabitants. This difficult, if not malign environment is the perfect backdrop for a crime novel. Jane Harper, with The Dry and now Force of Nature, has set a new benchmark in manipulating the landscape to serve the purposes of the plot; Emma Viskic with And Fire Came Down is following close behind.

The opening chapter of And Fire Came Down starts off with our hero, Caleb Zelic, being drawn into a dark alley in Melbourne.  A woman unknown to Caleb has sought him out specifically for his help. As he tries to make sense of what she’s telling him, they’re both attacked by another man and in the ensuing melee, the woman falls from the pedestrian kerb into the path of an oncoming van. Haunted by her death, Caleb is determined to find out why this young woman needed his help. His journey takes him back to his hometown of Resurrection Bay where he is tasered, kidnapped, lied to, threatened by bikkies and nearly dies of heat exhaustion. It’s a heck of a journey.

Green tea and my epiphany: three reasons why I’m in love with Gyokuro tea

Me and green tea have had an uneasy relationship.  Brewed properly, green tea can be deliciously refreshing and invigorating.  But so often, a combination of poor quality leaves and bad brewing results in an affront to the senses.  The Lipton Green Tea tea bag is the perfect example of the catastrophe that green tea can be – never again shall a drop pass my lips. Yet it doesn’t have to be a cup of green floor sweepings to make me grimace in pain; even green tea produced by notable tea companies can still be bitter and well, frankly quite gross.

My mistrust of green tea is so deep that for many years now I’ve nursed an unhealthy level of suspicion and hostility towards it.  I therefore assumed that our relationship could never be repaired.

So in this context, when a lovely friend recently gifted me a packet of Japanese green tea, I was hugely grateful on the outside, but on the inside I was nervous and fearful. I assumed this scenario could only end badly.

Hard to review, beautiful to read: Ali Smith’s Autumn

I’ve been wanting to read Ali Smith’s Autumn for months, simply because everything she writes is gold.  But I forgot about it for a bit, and in July it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Must read Autumn, I said to myself, then forgot again. In September it was shortlisted for the Prize. Really must read Autumn, I repeated to myself and actually remembered to request it from the library. It came into my possession, poetically, just as the Man Booker Prize was announced earlier this month. Autumn didn’t win, but it doesn’t matter – this is a beautiful book. I love it to pieces. I want everyone to know how great it is, but I’ve realised that it’s a really hard book to review. So bear with me*.

Val McDermid does fluffy in Northanger Abbey

There are those that cower at the thought of reading a classic novel. There are those who delight in the prospect. With all the adaptations of Jane Austen’s canon (including the dire Curtis Sittenfeld’s take on Pride and Prejudice which I sort of reviewed here), I’ve never understood who the publishers have in mind as the target reader. Is it the reader who can’t bear the stuffy prose and regency rituals of the originals, but is keen to see what all the fuss is about? Or is it the die-hard Austen fan who will read anything vaguely associated with that name? Having just finished read Val McDermid’s twist on Northanger Abbey, I’m still confused.